Bardstown Road has a secret: It has some of the most generous happy hours in town. The specials usually coincide with its ridiculous rush hour traffic patterns (no one has ever really understood the shifting, red X lane), and it just takes one parked car during no-parking prime time to back up traffic. Perhaps because of this, or because no one can park from 4 to 6 p.m., restaurants in the Upper Highlands have incredible deals to entice patrons to weather the mayhem. Our favorite happy hour is at Dragon King’s Daughter, which, coincidentally, just released a new menu.
DKD’s new menu includes an expanded happy hour menu, especially in the veggie rolls department, as well as added an hour to the happiness (now 3 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close). Deals include many rolls under $6, $10 off bottles of wine and $1 off beer. DKD is a pilgrimage for us once or twice a week because Hope and I are fans of great deals and because we eat dinner so early that one might expect Al Roker to wish us happy birthday.
DKD’s food is a fusion of Asian culinary styles, including Japanese, with Mexican (and regional central American) styles. Think of stir fry in a taco or Mexican spices and hot peppers in sushi and traditional Asian dishes. The new menu pushes deeper into the Japanese influences but still merges flavors from elsewhere.
We take our niece Hazel there often. The bento kids’ meal is only $5 for a roll, side of rice, edamame and a drink.
On our recent trip there, Hope stared at the wine menu like she was defusing a nuke in its final countdown but finally selected a fave, Domaine de Joÿ, a white blend that has some fruity/floral notes in the nose with a semisweet finish. It is a great attitude adjustment if you are having a bad day, happy hour priced at $23 a bottle.
We ordered warm, salted edamame, in theory, to share with the table, but, in practice, to be hoarded by our niece and handed out randomly like some B.F. Skinner conditioning experiment. Hazel recommends dipping the shucked beans in gluten-free soy sauce. To completely reproduce the experience, make sure half of the soy sauce is absorbed into your shirtsleeve.
Hope decided to explore new seafood menu options — the Sushi and the Banshis: $7 (avocado, cream cheese and roasted garlic on the inside with salmon and basil atop the roll) and the Selfish Shellfish: $9 and new to the menu (cocktail shrimp, cilantro and fresh avocado on the inside and lobster salad and lime).
I was delighted to find two of my favorite veggie rolls on the happy hour menu — the Summer Salad Roll: $6 (fresh mozzarella, spring mix, red onion, avocado, cucumber and cilantro with a drizzle of spicy mayo) and the Buffalo Roll: $4 (fresh mozzarella, cucumber and avocado). The Summer offers a variety of crunches and flavors pulled together by the rich, mayo drizzle. The Buffalo has subtler flavors making it perfect for dipping into gluten-free soy with a healthy portion of wasabi.
Since I had eaten lightly that day (only breakfast, a snack, a small early lunch and hearty second lunch), I ventured onto the main menu for a third roll, a new creation — It Came from the Deep: $9 (pickled daikon radish, cucumber and avocado inside and topped with vibrant green, crunchy seaweed salad with sesame oil and sesame seeds and a dollop of hot sauce). It was filling, a new favorite with the summer salad being a close second. •